This is today’s edition of The Download,our weekday newsletter that provides a daily dose of what’s happening in the tech world.
Google’s new AI can listen to a snippet of a song and then continue playing
A new AI system can create natural-sounding voices and music after receiving a request with a few seconds of audio.
AudioLM, developed by Google researchers, generates audio that matches the style of the message, including complex sounds like piano music or people talking, in a way that is almost indistinguishable from the original recording. Crucially, it doesn’t require labor-intensive transcription or tagging, unlike most other AI-generated audio. Learn more and listen to the sounds he created here.
I was there when: AI dominated chess
I Was There When is an oral history project that is part of our award-winning podcast In Machines We Trust. It contains stories of how breakthroughs and key moments in artificial intelligence and computing happened, as told by the people who witnessed them.
In the latest episode, we catch up with one of the world’s greatest chess players, Garry Kasparov, and hear why his loss to IBM’s Deep Blue computer 25 years ago still matters today. Listen to it on Apple Podcasts or wherever you usually go for podcasts.
Is a “twindemia” of covid and flu coming?
If you’re feeling a little under the weather, don’t worry, you’re not alone. For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s just that time of year. That’s partly why health authorities on both sides of the Atlantic are urging people to get vaccinated, both against the flu and against covid-19.
In recent months, we’ve heard warnings of a “twindemia” of flu and covid on the horizon. Should we be worried? Let our senior biomedical reporter Jessica Hamzelou walk you through the risks.
Jess’ story comes from The Checkup, her new weekly newsletter that brings you the inside track on all things health and tech. Sign up to receive it in your inbox every Thursday.
I’ve combed the internet to find you the funniest/important/scary and fascinating stories about technology.
1 This is life in the metaverse
It can be a lot of fun, if you can afford it. (NYT$)
+But Meta employees themselves are not convinced. (The edge)
2 A winter covid wave seems likely
And this time, we do next to nothing to stop it. (Ars Technique)
+The long covid is still incapacitating millions of Americans.(Axis)
+What happened in the last few days to the Chinese doctor who raised the alarm about covid.(NYT$)
3 Elon Musk has three weeks to buy Twitter
If he doesn’t do it in that time period, he will go back to the room. (quartz)
+what happens now(The Guardian)
+Lost track of all the twists and turns? Here’s a helpful timeline.(FT$)
+Musk says he will turn Twitter into a “super app.” Here’s how these apps work. (BBC)
4 Self-driving cars still seem to be on the way to nowhere
Even after 100 billion dollars have been invested in its development. (Bloomberg$)
+Uber is still betting it can make robotaxis work.(The edge)
+The great new idea for making self-driving cars that can go anywhere. (MIT Technology Review)
5 Google has unveiled two text-to-video AI systems
The videos they produce are stunning and vaguely disturbing. (The edge)
+This is what the next generation of AI looks like.(MIT Technology Review)
6 An influencer is suing TikTok for fraudulent ads that use her videos
This type of fraudulent marketing is widespread online, and there is a growing political consensus in favor of a crackdown. (WP$)
7 Crypto exchange Binance says hackers stole $100 million
This is another example of a “bridging” attack between two blockchains. (WSJ$)
+These common hacks demonstrate how security is an afterthought in the crypto industry. (MIT Technology Review)
8 Boston Dynamics has pledged not to arm its robots
Great, but the next question is: how do they stop customers from doing this? (Axis)
9 That’s why you can’t tickle yourself
Your brain knows what’s coming. (via cable $)
10 It’s cool to hate corn online
If you live in the US, it’s simply impossible to avoid this time of year. (The Atlantic $)
quote of the day
“I sent it to the whole team. We did this, look at this.”
—Elena Adams, the lead engineer for NASA’s asteroid-busting DART spacecraft, tells the New Yorker what she did with the telescope’s images of the aftermath of the collision last week.
The great story
India’s water crisis is here. Climate change will make it worse.
Severe droughts have drained rivers, reservoirs and aquifers in large parts of India in recent years, pushing the country’s leaky and polluted water systems to the limit.
More than 600 million Indians suffer from acute water scarcity. Seventy percent of the country’s water supply is contaminated, causing an estimated 200,000 deaths a year, and some 21 cities could run out of groundwater as early as next year.
Climate change will surely make the problem worse. It is not known what role higher temperatures have played in the recent droughts, as climate models have mainly predicted increasingly intense Indian monsoons. But the long-term forecast is for the extremes to become more extreme, threatening more frequent floods and longer droughts. Read the whole story.
We can still have beautiful things
A place for comfort, fun and distraction in these strange times. (Any ideas? Drop me a line ortweet them to me.)
+ This list of the 50 best bars in the world is guaranteed to be hotly contested. Just one way to check, I guess… I’d better pack!
+ The mustache is officially back in fashion.
+ Don’t even think about visiting a new place without checking the atmosphere on Google Maps.
+ Here’s how long it takes to paint a huge (and really impressive) mural.
+ Stephen King—bycomedy.